June 14, 2006
Town To Audit Cablevision
Southampton Town Comptroller Charlene Kagel was before the town board at last Friday's work session to propose a firm be hired to audit the town's franchise agreement with Cablevision.
The best part? There's no cost to the town, unless a discrepancy is found, at which point the firm will share in a percentage of funds recovered.
Southampton Town has a contract with Cablevision, in which the company is "supposed to give us a percentage of the fees that they collect" from residents, said Kagel.
That money is used to fund cultural and recreational programs throughout the town. "It's supposed to be an attempt to get people away from their televisions," she said.
Many municipalities have the same agreement, which involves a "royalty," accrued for things such as running lines through right of ways.
Because of the agreement, Kagel explained the town has the right to audit the books to "make sure that we're getting our fair share."
Troy and Banks, the company Kagel said will work with the Town, is a Buffalo-based auditing firm that specializes in cable franchise. In the past, the town had the nationally-based firm, Maximus, advising them in the most recent contract negotiation process with Cablevision.
Kagel said based on experiences such as that of Smithtown, which had recovered $125,000 of lost revenue, hiring the firm could be a win-win.
Each year, the town budgets for approximately $700,000 in revenue from Cablevision. In 2005, the town received just over $600,000. "It's actually trending up a little bit," she said.
Kagel believes if all goes well, the endeavor will be fruitful. "Hopefully, we'll get something," she said.
The town board endorsed the project and Town Supervisor Skip Heaney lauded Kagel's efforts and said sending town employees to conferences, where Kagel first heard of the idea of auditing Cablevision, could pay off in a big way.